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Business Communications

Marketing Message For Meaningful Client Partnerships

How to Focus Your Marketing Message For Meaningful Client Partnerships

As experts in the marketing industry, we’re reflecting on a few older marketing messages and sales techniques that have faded away over the years. 

For instance, cold-calling and door-knocking are not only used less today, but they are known for being a little too… in your face. 

Sales styles aren’t the only thing that has seen a transformation. 

After years of pitching to potential clients in a way that can be pushy and overbearing, businesses everywhere have stopped to think, “is this what my clients want?”

Spoiler alert: No! 

Our point here? Stop focusing on your offer. Aim more toward the transformation clients see when using your product or service. Whether you use in-person sales tactics or conduct your business online, the way you speak should have notes of empathy and understanding.

Are you still stuck in your old sales ways, but looking for ways to shake it up? 

Read on and find out why you should focus your marketing message for meaningful client partnerships using what is commonly called the “before and after grid” effect.

Build A Relationship Based On Trust

Now, let’s make something crystal clear. Forcing a client to buy something by making them feel uncomfortable or pressured rarely works out long-term. And while you may have made the sale, it probably didn’t leave any positive lasting impression on your client or convince them that their friends need to use you. 

The key to creating lasting client relationships involves trust – cue the salesmen jokes about being dishonest. But seriously, it doesn’t have to be this way if you start your interactions with just a pinch of understanding.

Here are a couple of tips to start building a relationship based on trust:

  • Keep the focus on the client and ask about their life
  • Show your authentic self and don’t be afraid to show off your quirks
  • Give value without expectation of anything in return

The Problem With The Old-School Approach

We’ll go ahead and set the scene with a made-up scenario. Keep in mind: this hypothetical situation can apply to in-person and online interactions. 

Say someone is looking for a blender because they’d like to start living a healthier lifestyle and make more smoothies. They’re looking for something simple, easy to clean, and light enough to move from counter to cabinet.

You may begin your marketing message pitch with the highest-quality (and most expensive) blender you have in stock. But it’s probably best that you don’t immediately get into its milkshake and ice cream blending features. Why? Because that’s not what the customer is looking for.

It also won’t help to describe the thirteen mix settings if your potential customer is genuinely only interested in one or two. Instead of purchasing the expensive blender, they might be put off by your marketing message because they don’t feel like they’re being heard or understood.

After feeling the heat to make a purchase, they are likely to book it and buy their blender somewhere else. 

How to Focus Your Marketing Message For Meaningful Client Partnerships

Let’s imagine we’re facing the same scenario. However, we’ll approach our potential client with a fresh perspective and new marketing message this time.

Now, you take the time to ask them what they are looking for and why they need it. While your prospective customer speaks (or fills out an online form), you’ll use those amazing active listening skills of yours to come up with a solution that meets their needs and isn’t misleading.

While you’re selling your blender, use this opportunity to repeat their problem back to them in a few ways. 

Then, you can simultaneously contrast with resulting solutions when they buy your blender. Give them a few options and communicate that they are the ones in control.

Not only will your customer feel heard, but they’ll also feel they can trust you without the sense of being pushed to make a decision right away.

Engage Your Potential Customer

Aside from your sales copy and the way you speak, you want to do as much as you can to engage your customers. A few other ways you can connect with your client base includes:

Offer Honest And Excellent Customer Service

Clients remember an exceptional experience as much as they can recall a bad one. And with 9 out of every 10 shoppers referring to online customer reviews before they buy, that’s a huge deal! Don’t hold back and go the extra mile for your clients.

That’s exactly why we post reviews on our website here

Absorb And Value Feedback

Your public relations and marketing team can define your brand and get your messaging right where you need it to be. In some cases, they may even be able to monitor your reviews. But clients will only see your business differently if you consider their feedback (especially if it’s negative) and recognize areas where you can improve.

Be Human

Finally, connect with your customers on a human level. Remember our blog covering H2H marketing? It’s right here if you need a refresher. Clients who you’ve made a real connection with are more likely to remember you later on and recommend you to others. 

Each of these sales tactics will keep your customer base close enough to reel them in, make a purchase, and turn to you for their future needs.

Create A Unique Selling Proposition To Refine Your Marketing Message

On top of the different ways you can engage with your clients, you should also figure out how to get your unique selling proposition across. This is also known as a USP.

If you aren’t familiar with this term, there’s no need to worry. A USP represents what makes your business special. You know what sets you apart from the rest and why your product or service is unmatched. But you need to be able to use that information!

There are several ways you can refine what your USP should be. For example, you can target:

  • How your product is made
  • Special certifications or accolades you have in your industry
  • Whether your product is biodegradable, environmentally friendly, organic, or natural

Using any one of these differentiators should point out a stark difference between you and your competitors.

A few examples of USP copy are:

  • 30 Days With Better Sleep Or Your Money Back
  • Keeps Water Ice Cold For 48 Hours
  • Softer Sheets With Every Single Wash
  • The Only FDA-Approved Artificial Sweetener Out There 

The goal of the final round-up of ideas is to create copy that solves the problem quickly, point out why you’re different, and make it snappy.

Have A Winning Brand Voice Guide

There’s a lot that goes behind your messaging in hopes of establishing meaningful relationships with prospects.  

But you can come out on top when you have the tools you need to remain consistent and strong in your messaging.

We use our time to create Brand Voice Guides that lays out your client’s problems and how you can solve them. By doing this before we start on any major projects, we understand exactly who you are and what you offer. 

Each one comes with a before and after grid. Here, we meticulously define what your customers go through before, during, and after they’ve gone through the purchasing process. It shows us the issue they have and how your business can solve it.Interested in your own Brand Voice Guide but don’t have the time to write one yourself? Contact us today so we can get started on building your brand the best way we know how.

Ready To Start Focusing Your Marketing Message For Meaningful Client Partnerships?

If you want to say good-bye to outdated sales tactics and focus on high-converting copy, let’s have a conversation.

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Communicating Your New IT Solutions

Communicating Your New IT Solutions During COVID-19 with Brooks IT Services

If you’re a regular around here, you know we usually talk about copywriting tips to help your business better communicate how it transforms your customer’s lives. Today, we’re taking a different direction to tell you why communicating your new IT solutions is critical for your business’ well-being. 

COVID-19 has been top-of-mind for many businesses lately. 

But the pandemic isn’t the only war we need to be fighting. Hackers are capitalizing on these unprecedented times to steal your information and compromise your security. Our friends at Brooks IT Services have put together these tips to help you avoid security threats and make sure that your genuine communications aren’t mistaken for spam.

3 Ways to Combat Cyber Threats

There are several measures all companies can take to avoid cybersecurity breaches. Here are 3 ways to combat cyber threats that can be quickly put into effect.

1. Watch Out for Phishing Emails

In the era of social-distancing, our inboxes contain more email than usual. It’s 2020, and email remains at the center of vital business communications. Unfortunately, it is also at the center of countless cybersecurity breaches. We must be more guarded and suspicious of emails and watch out for phishing email scams. Brooks IT Services has seen an increase of 680% in phishing emails since the COVID-19 lockdown started.

What’s a Phishing Email?

A phishing email is an email sent by a cybercriminal to convince you to reveal your sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, or banking details. They do this by pretending to be a representative of a trustworthy company or someone you know. 

Hackers have caught on to the copywriting techniques that well-meaning companies use everyday and use them to craft their phishing scams. This makes it extremely difficult for people to know what is spam and what isn’t.

Can you spot the subject line that’s spam?

Not as easy as you’d hoped, right

Signs An Email Is A Phishing Scam

So how can you tell a phishing email from a legitimate one? Phishing emails…

Appear to be from a company you trust. Cybercriminals take advantage of the trust companies have with their clients. They’ll even include a company’s name and logo or attach a fake invoice. 

Notify you of fake suspicious activity. Hackers will scare you into providing your login information. They may claim there’s an issue with your account information or that there have been several login attempts. 

Include a “special offer.” They’ll offer coupons for free products or say you’re eligible for a free service. 

Have generic language and/or typos. When phishing emails are sent out in mass, the greetings are typically generic (“Dear Customer,” or “Hi Dear,”). Cybercriminals intentionally include spelling and grammatical errors in their emails too. They assume people who overlook these errors will be more gullible, and it’ll be easier to steal their information.

Be More Suspicious of Emails

Trustworthy companies will never ask for your personal information via email. Never download non-secure attachments. If you receive a suspicious email from a company you trust, double-check the sender’s email address. If it looks genuine, contact the company directly with a phone number or website you know is legitimate. 

Now that you know what phishing emails look like, how can you make sure your business communications don’t look like spam? 

Tips to Avoid Sending Spammy-Looking Emails

Familiarize clients with your email address. If you send emails from a marketing automation software (Infusionsoft, Hubspot, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc.),  let your audience know what to expect. Say what the email’s sender address will be and what the contents will look like.  

Minimize poor grammar and spelling errors. This may seem like a duh moment, but there are many professional emails littered with grammatical issues. Proofread your emails and send a test email to confirm there aren’t any mistakes. 

Provide secure downloads. Establish trust with your audience by hosting your downloads in a secure place like Google Drive, WordPress media, or Amazon S3. If you’re sending secure information, always make sure the emails are encrypted. You don’t want someone to steal that information while it’s navigating to the intended inbox. 

2. Use Work Computers

Another simple way to combat cyber threats is to have employees use work computers. With Stay-At-Home orders, non-essential work is being conducted from home. It might be tempting to switch over to personal computers, but this is incredibly dangerous. And no… we don’t mean dangerous for your work-life balance (although it might be for that too!).

Companies take several measures to ensure their computers and networks are secure and protected from cyber threats. These protections aren’t guaranteed on personal devices. If employees access a company network from a personal computer, malware can enter the network and compromise company security. 

To avoid this, provide secure company computers/laptops for employees’ at-home use. And if they aren’t already, have employees use a VPN to connect to business networks from home too. 

3. Improve Your Password Strategy

It’s tempting to set a simple password that’s easy to remember and saves you time. 

But hackers can crack a simple password in a matter of seconds. 

Your time is expensive, but security breaches are too. The good news is you don’t have to choose! You can improve your password strategy in little to no time.

The song lyrics strategy. Song lyrics are long, but easy to remember. Set your password as the first letter of each word in a song lyric. It will be nonsense to anyone else, but you’ll recall it quickly. For example, a password using the starting lyrics of the national anthem would be “Oscysbtdel”. This would take 20 octillion years to break using a PC; but many hackers access multiple computers so this likely break time is much shorter! Add in a symbol or two for even more protection.

Use a password manager. Most business owners have numerous login credentials. Using unique passwords for each one provides maximum security, but remembering them all can be grueling. Password managers are a great solution for setting and remembering highly secure passwords with minimal effort. You’ll just have to remember one password, and the rest is done for you.  

Change passwords regularly. Hackers use computer programs to test every combination of characters your password could be. This means it is only a matter of time before they crack even the most complex passwords. Set a recurring reminder in your calendar to change your passwords regularly so you’ll have new security details before they finish hacking. 

Communicating Your New IT Solutions During COVID-19

The pandemic hasn’t only impacted cyber security. It’s pushed many companies into remote work requiring new technology. To make this transition as smooth as possible, keep these things in mind when communicating your new IT solutions during COVID-19… 

Communicate Often 

The most predictable thing about our current situation is that it’s unpredictable. With each coming day, there’s something new we need to protect ourselves from – either physically or virtually. Shortly after Zoom’s rise in popularity, Zoom-bombing became an issue. Now we know password-protecting calls is essential. As technology and current events change rapidly, keep your employees informed through frequent communication.  

Become a Valuable Resource 

Don’t assume your audience knows the technology. Take time to make sure your communication is extra clear and your audience knows how to protect the application and information they access. The last thing you want is to be bombarded with a bunch of people asking how to get onto Zoom

Be a Person First 

This is something that we preach all the time… It’s not about your company. It’s about the customer. And when you’re dealing with your customers, you have to be a person first. Bryan Brooks affirmed, “they may be your employees, colleagues, and your clients. BUT they are people first.”

Stay Informed But NOT Obsessed

Trying to stay up-to-date on all the latest news is exhausting and unrealistic. With today’s 24-hour news cycle, you could be caught up for hours on end and still not get to everything. You’ll lose valuable work-time and gain more anxiety than benefit. 

So how can you stay informed without getting obsessed? Try signing up for an email newsletter that highlights important tech news. You’ll get straight to the important news, without wasting your time and energy. 

The experts at Brooks IT Services find the most relevant news stories in tech for you and deliver it to your mailbox each day so you can spend less time worrying and more time doing. 

Meet Bryan Brooks of Brooks IT Services

Bryan Brooks is the President and Founder of Brooks IT Services – a managed service provider for small to medium sized businesses. They are currently working hard to secure at-home offices and protect their client’s most valuable asset – their information. If you’re still wondering whether you need more security, download their 12 Little-Known Facts Every Business Owner Must Know About Data Backup, Security, And Disaster Recovery here. 

Communicating Through the Coronavirus Crisis

Communicating Through the Coronavirus Crisis

March 18th, 2020… The rapidly spreading coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) led to countless local and national events to be cancelled. Major events such as the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, to MLB spring training, and NBA March Madness came to a stand-still and halted the community spirit they engender. Churches, universities, libraries, and school districts rapidly followed suit. Suddenly, virtual classrooms were hurriedly created, parents had to become homeschool teachers, and homes became offices.

Even today, there continues to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding coronavirus. Will what happened in Italy happen in the United States? How long will this pandemic last? How will it impact my business?

When there’s uncertainty, people either make rash decisions (AKA taking more than their fair share of toilet paper and water) or don’t make any decisions at all.

Take a deep breath…. In… Out…

Let’s talk through one of the most important decisions your business should be making right now: communicating through the coronavirus crisis to your community about your company’s plans.

2 Camps for Coronavirus Business Communications

There are 2 camps for coronavirus business communications: those which require immediate communications with customers or vendors (urgent) and those whose business has not been impacted dramatically (non-urgent). It’s critical that you figure out which camp your business is in. 

There are 2 audiences for business communications, audiences that:

  • Urgently need information (i.e. staff, customers and vendors or suppliers)
  • Can wait or don’t need explicit communications about what you’re doing 

You should communicate with both audiences, but your immediate priority audience should be staff, customers, and vendors/suppliers. This is especially important regarding the highly volatile and troubling COVID-19 pandemic.

Companies That Require Urgent Communication

If your business primarily depends on customers and workers being physically present in your place of work, it is essential that you communicate as soon as possible with your customers, employees, and vendors about your plan regarding the coronavirus pandemic. 

Here are some examples of companies that require urgent communications with employees, vendors, and customers:

  • Restaurants / Cafes / Coffee Shops / Bars
  • Fitness Centers / Gyms
  • Businesses whose supply chain has been disrupted (how many of your goods or components are sourced from China?)
  • Retail stores
  • Event planning companies
  • Entertainment
  • Face-to-face contact

Companies That Do Not Require Urgent Communication 

Businesses and people that you work with, but don’t necessarily have to be in the same room or building with them to conduct your business, should be considered for non-urgent communications. Why? Because they only need to be kept informed about what and how your business is operating under current conditions as it may affect how you continue to work together.  

For example, if your key personnel are now working from home, they may need to offer their cell phone number or clients or set up call forwarding to their cell phone. 

That’s why you won’t see an email about how FocusCopy is reacting to the coronavirus pandemic. Our clients already know that we can do everything remotely and that we are able to deliver our services to them – business as usual.

Here are some examples of companies that you may consider for non-urgent communications:

  • Companies that already work remotely
  • Coaching or consulting businesses

Identifying What Coronavirus Means For Your Business

To communicate effectively with the community regarding your company’s plans, you should first identify what the current state of affairs means for your business.

Create a Business Communications Plan Before You Need It

Most days, I check the weather before I leave the house so I know whether to pack an umbrella – I don’t want to get caught in the rain. 

If the coronavirus had your company blind-sided, let’s talk about ways you can regularly tune into the forecast of your business network to anticipate major events and be prepared for an unexpected storm.

Pay attention to your employees, vendors, customers, and customer’s customers.

One of my mentors once told me to ask every business I come in contact with, “How’s business?”. Whether it is before the close of a meeting or at the end of a quick phone call, it’s one of the best pieces of advice that he ever gave me.

Asking this one simple question will give you a regular update on the economic climate and keep you tuned in to challenges that might soon rise to the surface. When issues arise in other businesses, vendors, customers, or employees, you can anticipate the impact this might have on your business and start preparing your communication plan, well in advance.

Always Defer to Reliable Sources For Guidance

It’s so easy to get caught up in pseudo-reliable sources or believe compelling news trends that pick up in your social media feeds. However, before you put out any business communications, defer to the legitimate reliable sources of information – the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). 

While we could go into everything you need to think about when it comes to COVID-19, we’ll defer to resources that the CDC has put together for businesses.

Tips for Communicating Through the Coronavirus Crisis

Here are tips for communicating through the coronavirus crisis.

Keep Messaging Clear & Concise

When public health officials release new information, they aim to be consistent, accurate, clear, and concise. You should do the same thing. The last thing that you want to have happen is have a wave of customers responding with clarifying questions. 

If there is any vital information that your audience needs to hear, don’t withhold it. If you don’t know what’s going to happen, then state it. 

Many businesses in the service industry (restaurants, cafes, bars, etc.) have created a separate COVID-19 response page on their websites to explain how they are helping to maintain cleanliness and how they are going to serve their customers despite ever-changing demands from public health officials. 

If your normal services need to be adjusted to protect your customer and your staff, consider creating a COVID-19 web page of your own, or devoting a post on your social media page explaining the change(s).

Be Positive

Communicating Through the Coronavirus Crisis
The College Planning Center Example

There is a balance between being serious (not joking) and remaining positive. It’s a fine line to dance, but we always err on the side of caution especially with something as serious as a pandemic. Acknowledge the challenges of the situation, and offer ways that your business can provide some solace or positive distraction. 

One of our clients forwarded us this great email – full of empathy, positivity, and opportunity. It acknowledges the situation (lack of college guidance while schools are closed) and a perfect solution to make their readers not waste this extra long Spring Break.

Leave Email Blasts for Essential Communications

Communicating Through the Coronavirus Crisis
Postmate Example

Leave the email blasts for essential communications. Here are some companies that sent really well put-together emails about their response to COVID-19.

Postmate has direct contact with their consumers; therefore, it makes total sense to send out an email to their customers. One thing that we really like about this email is they include everyone – customers, fleet (their “employees”), and vendor (restaurants) in one simple to read email. It’s clear and concise. Bullets are your best friend here!

Unfortunately, my inbox has been flooded with non-essential emails. These messages aren’t communicating useful information about changes in a company’s normal procedures or access to their services. Instead, they are sending out messages solely because they have hopped onto the bandwagon and think that they need to address the world news via an email blast. 

To protect the following perpetrators, we haven’t included any examples. But I can almost guarantee that you have some in your inbox. Read through a few of them, and while reading these, ask yourself… Did these communicate anything valuable? 

Remember, if your customers already interface with you digitally or have little in-person interactions with you, do them a big favor and spare their inbox by communicating with them using  other mediums instead. Your community will respect your ability to be thoughtful and intentional about your communication.

Reinforce Safety & Priorities

Southwest Example

While you’re communicating through the coronavirus crisis, it’s important that your reinforce safety and state your priorities. Your customers need to hear that you’re taking care of everything.

Southwest Airlines put together a great email outlining the biggest concern in the airline industry right now – cleanliness. They expressed that while they already have an extensive cleaning process, they’ve upped their game to protect their customers.

Letting your customers and employees know what your company is doing to ensure their health and safety will put the community at ease, and help business run as close to normal under unusual circumstances.

Get On It Early

It’s no shocker that things change on a daily if not weekly basis. In the span of just 2 days, Harris County shut down all bars and clubs and closed all restaurant dining rooms. In the food and beverage industry, that’s a rapid and radical change! Successful transitions into these changes relies on a company’s ability to adjust early.

When first hearing news about health and economic troubles in other parts of the world or even local companies outside of your industry, it’s only natural to want to keep hope that these misfortunes will not come your way too – that things will not get as bad here. But like the old saying goes: better safe than sorry. It’s better to prepare a plan you may never have to use, than to be forced to react last-minute without one. 

Another benefit about planning an early response is that it allows you to create your own narrative rather than allowing the media, the government, or competitors to write your storyline for you.

Support Other Businesses 

Bottom line… Every business has been impacted by COVID-19. In times like these, there is power in numbers. We are stronger together. Support other businesses by…

  • Engaging with their brands on social media
  • Sharing offers from other companies
  • Partnering with a company for a joint product/service
  • Referring business to those other businesses

Offer Free Value 

If you have not been impacted, then I encourage you to offer free value to your followers. Don’t be afraid to give value, even if it was once behind a paywall. Here is a list of free value you can offer your followers, prospects, and customers:

  • Free Facebook Group
  • Access to normally paid content (see below for an example from Digital Marketer)
  • Webinar training
  • Instagram/Facebook/LinkedIn LIVE content
  • New blogs
  • Guides (see below for what Jenna Kutcher put together)
  • Podcasts 
Communicating Through the Coronavirus Crisis
DigitalMarketer Example

All of these options are social-distancing proof, can be extremely valuable, and help build relationship equity.

For example, DigitalMarketer just offered its DM Lab available for free. This is a subscription that has helped me as I built my career. Again, they’re building relationship equity. 

And they didn’t send an email about how they are reacting to COVID-19.

Extend Grace to Your Vendors & Customers

Everyone reacts differently to stress. Some become very quick decision makers. Others lose their cool or shut down. So in all your communications – digital, written, verbal, etc. – extend grace. You don’t know what unexpected challenges others are dealing with, how they react to stress, or how they’ve been treated by others. 

Thankfully, this isn’t the first pandemic of our time (last one being the 2009 H1N1 pandemic). For some of us towards the end of the millennial generation or in Generation Z, that memory may be vague. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask more experienced colleagues. This isn’t their first rodeo, so you may learn something that will help you not reinvent the wheel.

Give large amounts of grace. Be quick to forgive. And forgive often. 

At the end of the day, your vendors and customers are human beings. I know I say that all the time, but we often forget that we’re working with emotional beings. They have basic needs, just like you. 

Ask For Help If You Need It

Finally, ask for help if you need it. Small business communities are stronger than ever. People are willing to fight for you, but they can’t give you what you need if you don’t ask for it. Common things to ask for are:

  • Copywriting for websites
  • Online shops
  • Process flows for product delivery
  • Other revenue streams
  • Social media management
  • Childcare (so you can focus on your business)

Whatever it is, ask for it. If you’re having issues finding a solution, please tag FocusCopy at @FocusCopyLLC to let us know or send an email to info@FocusCopy.com. We made it our mission to be our clients’ strategic partners in all their business communications. So let’s partner together and get through this!

If your company needs help with COVID-19 messaging, we are offering 2 hours of free consultation with me –  co-founder and CEO of FocusCopy. With over 4 years of copywriting, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship experience, I want to help you navigate these uncertain times. No gimmicks. No up-sells. Just pure and sincere help from a fellow business owner. Click here to schedule your consultation.  

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